Kathy Wanpovi Sanchez
Being of Tewa ancestry in these times bears tremendous testimony to the love of all our relations. Being kind-hearted women, compassionate sisters, supportive aunties, patient (oh so patient) wives, caring mothers, tired but generous and loving grandmothers—all within an Indigenous beingness—bears testimony to Mother Earth’s love for us all.
My passion in life is to create new pathways to reach and re-energize the hearts of women running on frustration, women who are sick and tired of seeing our people trying to be tribal in the boogieman’s shoes.
What do native lullabies have in common with the boogieman? News travels by word of mouth, as it did thousands upon thousands—and even as recently as hundreds—of years ago. My great-grandmother was born around 1885. Does that seem so long ago? At that time, it was the wild, wild West, thanks to the U.S. government and its cavalry. We faced a rebelling government with a mission to acquire ancestral lands by killing the Indians or killing the Indian in us.
So, being in recovery of exponential harm from historical trauma, I thought, how wonderful to return to a loving way of soothing and conveying love to a yet-to-be-born, to a newborn, to the young toddlers, as we call them, “breath of our hearts.” What a surprise for me to remember a lullaby that goes somewhat like, “Go to sleep, my little one. Go to sleep. The boogieman is coming.” What put the fear of a violent man in her life? I do remember my great-great-grandmother telling us children about the coming of the first white people: “They were cruel, they killed our relatives, destroyed their pueblos and communal nations, without sparing women or children.”
So, as young as we were, we were taught fear—to fear the senseless brutality of those who want your lands, your water, your women, and will destroy your offspring and sicken your people. “Go to sleep, my loved ones. Dream of laughter and Mama’s soothing voice. Shhhh…” Many of our new acquaintances do not know, even our younger generational relatives do not know, about the bloody killings of innocent children, elders and women. This seems so unthinkable, but it was done and never acknowledged or brought to criminal courts.
What is happening today has the same smell of greed, hatred and racism—all in the name of corporations, businesses and money to be had. What has been happening and is happening now in U.S. politics is the resurfacing of the boogieman. He has made a dirty business of killing us off slowly, with impunity, and taught us well to lust for what money can buy. He has numbed us, so our representation will disappear.
We will not make our children fear us. We will not allow the silencing of women to happen again. We will not allow our children to become subjects/objects to be consumed by boogiemen on the hill. Use of fear, intimidation and shaming will no longer be allowed. Healing generational trauma by living the traditional values of loving, caring and nurturing for better lifeways and true sustainability of all relations will flourish in our valleys again.
Kathy Wanpovi Sanchez, of San Ildefonso Pueblo, co-founded Tewa Women United. www.tewawomenunited.org